March 6, 2018

Elections roundup: Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and more go the polls

Starting this week, I’ll be writing a weekly election recap to keep you updated through the primary in June.

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Tonight there are municipal elections throughout the state, including in two of the state’s largest cities: Santa Fe and Rio Rancho.

Santa Fe’s election will be interesting because the city is using ranked choice voting  for the first time. Will it go smoothly? How will it impact who wins? And Rio Rancho could be  interesting as a gauge of where New Mexico stands heading into this fall’s general elections.

Rio Rancho could prove more interesting than a widely-Democratic city like Santa Fe because of the shift in suburban areas seen in recent elections in other states over the past few months, most notably Virginia.

In Rio Rancho, while officially non-partisan elections, each of the members of the city council are Republicans, as is the mayor.

Mayor Gregg Hull is facing Democrat Tom Swisstack and electoral newcomer Christopher Muldrow. Swisstack is himself a former mayor of Rio Rancho, in addition to previously serving in the state House in the area.
Every state House seat and all three U.S. House seats are up for election this year (along with statewide positions including U.S. Senate).

For Democrats to expand their majority in the New Mexico House, they would need to win these sort of areas that have skewed Republican in the past. Republicans, meanwhile, cannot afford to lose these areas to keep the margin in the chamber close, let alone take back the House.

Other municipal elections tonight include Aztec, Bloomfield, Carlsbad, Farmington, Las Vegas, Los Lunas, Silver City and Socorro.

  • The Libertarian Party of New Mexico held its first-ever pre-primary convention. The party became a major party in the state after Gary Johnson received over 9 percent of the vote in the presidential election. Look for more on this later in the week.
  • The previous week, the Republican Party of New Mexico held its pre-primary convention, with all eyes on the 2nd Congressional District race. State Rep. Yvette Herrell won the pre-primary, getting her the top spot on the ballot. Former state party chair Monty Newman also qualified for the ballot.
  • Late last week, Jack Volpato announced he would end his race for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. He cited “no clear path forward” for him in the primary after results in the Republican pre-primary convention.
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